INDUSTRIA BIOTEC: New showcase of biotechnology

Berlin, 11.10.2022 – Europe’s industrial biotech sector has a new platform: On Friday last week, numerous experts presented the latest biotechnological solutions in Berlin at INDUSTRIA BIOTEC. The event was hosted by BIOCOM AG.

How microbial and enzyme-based fermentation solutions complement the mostly agricultural bioeconomy approaches and green chemistry in decarbonising industrial production was discussed in a total of five panels: Energy, Chemistry, Waste Cycles, Food and Finance.

The Energy panel highlighted synthetic biology approaches and novel bioprocesses that have the potential to change the sector in a sustainable way. Experts discussed advances in second- and third-generation biofuels, gas-fermenting microbes that produce methane, and opportunities for scaling up biohydrogen production. They made it clear that it is not so much the technical solutions that are lacking as the financial resources for scaling up and the political will to go “bio” in this area as well.

In the chemistry panel, the challenge facing this industrial sector became apparent: The chemical industry is aiming for fossil-free production, but the most common chemicals and materials cannot be decarbonised or replaced by alternatives. Greater attention must therefore be paid to non-fossil alternative carbon sources – such as biomass or carbon dioxide – for which biotechnology makes important contributions.

The expert panel on waste provided a fitting follow-up to the discussion on industrial transformation. The presentation showed examples of sustainable process solutions based on biotechnology and made it clear that the word “waste” is no longer valid. It is about recycling and thus value creation and true circular economy precisely in the area that is usually seen as the end of the product life cycle. The visions and practical examples in the transformation of previous industrial processes including the “replication” of photosynthesis to obtain new biomaterial were highlights of the event.

In the round on new foods, one of the topics was precision fermentation from the laboratory, which could overcome a host of known problems of today’s agriculture and livestock breeding and reduce their large share of greenhouse gases. In addition, the large consumption of land or the use of animal antibiotics was denounced, which would tend to increase as the world population grows – if we were to stick to traditional food production. However, the speakers also agreed that no one path or solution alone could resolve the complex interconnections of world food supply, increase in meat consumption, drinking water contamination by pesticides and overfertilisation, small farmers vs. large farms, global supply chains and climatic regional challenges in the desired direction. One expert made it clear that in the so-called developing countries, even small improvements directly in the field can often have a big impact.

For all the innovations discussed, one thing is indispensable: more money. The discussion panel on “Capital – Financing”, led by the largest fund investing in the circular economy, ECBF, did not want to dwell on complaints, but formally agreed by consensus that now is a very good time to invest in climate-friendly technologies and new visionary approaches, especially with all the crises around: “The opportunities are gigantic – and no investor in his right mind should miss them”.

The French food tech company Standing Ovation has 12 million euros in funding behind it. It won the first start-up pitch at Industria Biotec the night before. Founded in 2020 and based in Paris, the food tech company aims to become a major player in the €2.5 billion vegan cheese market. Standing Ovation has developed a fermentation process to produce animal-free casein, the most abundant protein in cheese at 80% that gives cheese its unique properties. CEO and co-founder Frédéric Pâques now has the opportunity to present his company in detail in European Biotechnology Magazine.